Unearth It

Unearth It! is an exciting series of innovative learning projects for schools developed by Longwood Gardens with our educational partners. 

The program aims to spark curiosity and instigate learning while creating memorable and impactful moments for students.

Welcome to Unearth It! The Great Debate!

The Great Debate is the first project in the series and uses the context of horticulture to pose a real-life question to students that they will then research, develop, present, and debate. During the project, high school students mentor middle school students to enhance the learning experience. This curriculum–based program was piloted with Patton Middle School of the Unionville–Chadds Ford School District. 

Why bring The Great Debate to your school?

  • It provides a new way to meet curriculum standards within your classroom.
  • It promotes developing and enhancing students’ research, inquiry, and problem-solving skills using a real-life context.
  • It improves Social Emotional Learning through teamwork, presentation skills, and engages high school mentors to guide middle school students through the process.
  • The winning team from the regional competition receives a prize of $500 to put their ideas into place in their own school environment, further developing students’ leadership skills.

Project Overview

By taking part in this project, you are inspiring your 6th8th graders to think about plants and the world in which they live. Throughout the project, students will answer a question and come up with a creative solution by researching, preparing, sharing, presenting, mentoring, refining, and achieving. The skills students gain using teamwork, collaboration, and their own self-confidence will enable them to feel empowered to act and make a difference in the world. Hear more about the program from our staff in the video below.

The Great Debate Question

How can horticulturists help improve the quality of life in urban areas?

The Research Themes

  • Air Quality
  • Food
  • Water Quality
  • Health and Wellbeing

Criteria for Success

  • Producing a presentation that demonstrates knowledge gained
  • Demonstrating why their creative solution is the best
  • Example implementation of their plan at your school

The Prize

The winning team will receive a prize of $500 to use on their school grounds to implement a version of their idea to green their school. 

We look forward to working with you and can’t wait to see your students’ amazing work!


What grade level is appropriate for The Great Debate?
This contest is designed for 6th8th grade students and includes an optional high school mentoring component.

Who is this contest meant for?
This contest is meant for any 6th8th grade student to participate in. We welcome public schools, private schools, charter schools, cyber schools, home school co-op groups, and after-school groups (Scouts, etc.) to participate.

Do I have to see my students in person to participate?
We have prepared this content to be done with students either in person or virtually. So, no matter if you are seeing your students in person, virtually, or hybrid, students are still able to participate!

What if my students are not located close to Longwood Gardens?
No problem! We have designed the content and the final contest to be done in person or virtually via zoom. Even if the final contest is held in person, we can still connect groups via zoom to participate.

What are the deadlines?

  • Teachers or group leaders must sign up to receive the program materials by February 4, 2022.
  • Video submissions for the first round of the regional contest must be submitted by March 4, 2022 by 5:00 pm. 
  • The top 10 teams who will advance to the final round will be notified on or before March 18, 2022. 
  • Should your team be chosen to compete in the final round, the competition will be held on April 13, 2022 from 6:00–8:00 pm either at Longwood or via Zoom.  

Additional Questions?

School and Youth Programs
E-mail: schoolandyouth@longwoodgardens.org
Phone: 610.388.5377

Ready to bring this program to your students?

Registration is closed. Please check back for upcoming opportunities.